Event Reports

Regional Conference on Requirements for an independent and effective Judiciary in Sub-Saharan Africa

Young legal Researchers from Burundi, DRC, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania & Uganda discuss issues in criminal&civil proceedings

The Rule of Law Program for Sub-Saharan Africa of Konrad Adenauer Stiftung organized a regional conference for young legal researchers from Burundi, DRC, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda to exchange their experiences and expertise regarding requirements for an independent and effective judiciary. The conference was held on 2nd and 3rd September 2016 in Nairobi.

The objective of this conference as highlighted in the opening remarks given by Dr. Arne Wulff (Director of the Rule of Law Program for Sub-Saharan-Africa of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung), Prof. Dr. Hartmut Hamann, the convenor, as well as by Michael Derus, Deputy German Ambassador to Kenya, was to provide the young legal scholars with a platform to discuss the issues from the perspectives of each country and to learn from each other while building strong networks that can analyse common challenges and seek solutions viable in the promotion and protection of the rule of law in the region.

Presentations and Workshops showcase the Issues across Sub-Saharan Africa

The two-day conference addressed pertinent issues concerning independence and effectiveness of the judiciary in African countries, such as the constitutional and legislative framework that establish and govern the functioning of the judiciaries, legal and administrative policies that regulate the appointment, promotion and removal criteria of judicial officers, the fiscal autonomy of the judiciaries among others. Whereas the presentation and workshops on the first day especially focussed on topics regarding civil proceedings, the second day concentrated on matters relating to criminal courts.

Positive lessons learned on the legal systems of each country were pointed out by the participants and suggestions were made on what can be done to improve the situation regarding the appointment of judges, assigning files, enforcing civil judgments and strengthening the independence of judges as well as finding ways for investigative authorities to work together in an efficient and fruitful way.

Different Countries – Similar Issues

It became clear that the challenges throughout the countries in the region are similar: Recurrent issues that came up during the conference were widespread corruption, lack of transparency, lack of sufficient training for judicial officers, lack of civic education, mistrust in the judiciary, dependence of the judiciary on the executive due to high influence of politics in the judicial system and personnel, limited access of citizens to judiciary due to scarcity of judicial officers in rural areas, backlog of cases, lack of qualified staff as well as technological challenges.

Participants from six Nations identify Suggestions for Solutions to common Problems

Amongst many others, participants recommended the following solutions: to minimize the executive influence on the judiciary, enhance capacity building of institutions, working on the administration of justice, enhance practical trainings for judicial officers, embrace new technologies by digitalizing procedures and facilitating an easier method for administration, access and tracking of files. They also called for concerted efforts to fight against corruption and increase transparency. Moreover, the legal scholars from the six different nations additionally called for civic education in order to inculcate moral values in the society and promote a profound understanding of the importance of integrity, especially among the young generation who will be the African countries’ future leaders.

Regional Conference as Platform to build strong Networks

By implementing this conference, the Rule of Law Program for Sub-Saharan Africa of KAS provided the young legal scholars with a platform to exchange ideas, experiences, successes and challenges by analysing them as a means towards finding practical and sustainable solutions to some of the issues. Likewise, the event also enabled the participants to build on and deepen their juridical skills and knowledge in the field of promoting the rule of law, which is essential for the foundation of a successful democracy. KAS shall continue to contribute towards strengthening regional networks, which are essential to the realization of peace, stability as well as social and economic development in Africa.

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Participants attending the Regional Conference in Nairobi (Kenya) at Royal Orchid Hotel on 2nd and 3rd September 2016 on Requirements for an independent and effective Judiciary in Burundi, DR Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda KAS